Sept. 23-30, 2006
Mary & Vincent Finelli
We always enjoy
our first visit to a newer ship and this cruise on the Caribbean
Princess, launched in 2004, was no exception. This ship
looked majestic in port with her eighteen deck high Skywalkers
Nightclub suspended above the rear, like a race car spoiler. Capt.
Manfuso was very happy to extend a real warm Princess greeting to
us. We also met Passenger Services Director (PSD) Peter Hollinson
and his able assistant Rebecca Lamb, who proved to have a wealth of
knowledge on the Caribbean Princess.
Thus, just a few hours on board, we had several new acquaintances
and were about to encounter an old one when we checked on our dining
reservations, Maitre D' Nicola Furlan. We had met him a few years
ago on the Grand Princess. We also made many new friends including
Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara and Pastry Chef Riccardo Bellaera
(both from Sicily, Italy) and more on these two accomplished men
This ship is the
largest of the Princess ships. Picture this: The Grand
Princess, plus one more deck. The old saying about the Grand
Princess when she first sailed from Venice, Italy, in May
1998 was "...she presented a view so grand that only a solar
eclipse is more spectacular..." must now be replaced by the
idea that only the Caribbean
Princess is closer to heaven!
We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, which is the closest port to our home
and thus our favorite. Saturday morning traffic was light on I-95
and we arrived at the port approximately 11:00am. There were still
passengers debarking from the last cruise, but we were placed in a
large cool waiting room and given a No. 1 boarding pass along with
other wheel chair passengers. Boarding time is listed as 1:00pm, but
it actually began at noon. We had wheelchair assistance all the way
to our mini suite. Later we heard that some passengers had a
long wait of up to 3 hours; thank goodness we didn't.
The Caribbean Princess was
built by Fincantieri Shipyards in Monfalcone, Italy and is hull
#6067. Launched in 2004, she is registered in Hamilton, Bermuda and
weighs 112,894 gross tons. She is 950.01 ft long and has a total
breadth including wings (2 folding fin stabilizers) of 165.7 ft;
however, her moulded beam is 118 ft. with a maximum draft of 27.7
ft. Her passenger capacity is 3,740 with a crew of 1,060 (technical
staff is 87; 23 officers and 64 crew). She has four 16 cylinder
diesel engines in vee form, plus two 12 cylinder diesel engines all
attached to a synchronous generator. Propulsion is provided by two
electric motors activating two propellers, two rudders and six
transverse thrusters, capable not only of forward and backward
motion, but also of sideways movement. The only thing that surpasses
her fuel capacity of 2,649 tons is her fresh water capacity of 2,731
tons. On board there are 14 passenger elevators (lifts), 13 service
elevators, 4 handicapped platforms, 4 store platforms and a
passenger conveyer (a movable walkway to the Skywalker's Nightclub).
Enough of the
mechanical specifics and now to the decor which is beautifully
subdued. When entering on the Plaza Deck 5, the most stunning design
is John Richen's "Caribbean Symphony" which are three deck
tall hand carved aluminum panels set between glass panes. The
underwater scenes picture fishes, manatees, medusas (jellyfish) etc.
and sea flora. They are truly breathtaking. When inside the
elevators, Deck 8 and up have fanciful porthole bubble displays.
The handy Caribbean
Princess's Passenger Pocket Guide starts with the following
Deck 4 has the medical center, we were invited to tour it but
could not make it. From discussions with passengers who had occasion
to use the facilities, we found out that they were more than
adequate--swift and complete. Aft Decks 4 & 5 have the Galley.
Deck 5 midship has the Island Dining Room with Carlos
Ozzimo's "Island Series." He has also done lovely pastoral
series for the Coral and Palm Dining Rooms and even the "Grand
Casino Series", all of which are acrylic on canvas. The simple
wood paneled walls with smoked glass and brass sconces are stately
but mellow. On the starboard side near the Panoramic Lifts there is
the Joker's Card room with the "Old World Maps Series"
(Anonymous), beautifully reproduced on tiles. In the atrium are also
located the Grand Plaza Lobby Bar and the Passenger Services and the
Tour Desks. Forward on Deck 5 there are staterooms and a Laundromat.
Deck 6 aft has the Palm Dining Room, the Gallery and the
Coral Dining Room midship. Going toward forward again are the
Boutiques and the Grand Casino. All the way forward is the
Princess Theater with its warm Tuscan red walls and comfortable
seats, with an excellent view of the stage from everywhere.
Deck 7 aft has the Club Fusion with a Southwestern motif:
dark woods, leather, surround bars, and a sunken dance floor and
bandstand. Cowboy murals, one wall of old tint types and a
mechanical bull complete the aura. Midship is the Photo Gallery, and
Trattoria Sabatini, the upscale Italian Restaurant with murals by
Istvan Bernath. Next, are two great rooms, the Explorers Lounge with
its travel the world motif and the Wheelhouse Bar with its nautical
Midship are more
boutiques and the Crooners' Bar with a grand piano and the
interesting stained glass panels "Crooners Glass Series"
by Janick Arts. From here there is the best view of the stunning
light fixture shaped like a huge pendant flower: its petals of
mysterious smoked glass edged in pewter. Look down on the wonderful
round mosaic centered on the floor (oops deck). Next go forward to
the Sterling Steak House and the Internet Cafe (Vincent and other
Captain's Circles platinum and elite members have free internet
access). Forward is the upper level of the Princess Theater, with a
ramp for wheelchair access. There are many reserved seats for the
handicapped and even ushers to make sure everyone is comfortable.
Deck 8, Dolphin Deck 9, Caribe Deck 10, Baja Deck 11, Aloha Deck 12,
Riviera Deck 14 are all staterooms and suites with a
laundromat located on each deck. There is also ship's laundry
service which is reasonable and prompt. There is a Terrace Pool aft
on Deck 14.
Deck 15 has the Horizon Food Court midship, the Horizon
Terrace aft, the Calypso Pool/Bar, Scoop's Ice cream, Neptune's
Reef/Pool, Blackbeard's Bar, Prego Pizza and the Trident Grill.
Deck 16 forward has the Lotus Spa with another lovely
"Japanese Fantasy Series" by Ozzimo; this is a very
peaceful, restful area. There is also the Gym & Spa here. Aft
are located the Fun Zone for children and the Off Limits for teens.
Deck 17 aft has the moving walkway up to Skywalker Night
Club. Deck 18 forward has Cyber Golf, the Jogging Track, and Center
court. Deck 19 has the Skywalker Night Club which is suspended high
over the seas like a "Spoiler" on a racing car. Daytime it's
serene and quiet way up here, at night it's a whole new world.
Over all the ship is
lovely with many art works in stairwells and on walls and all
We had high expectations for our 8th Princess cruise and we feel
that they were met. Service always radiates down from the top and
Capt. Manfuso is a serene, solid Commander who has well placed
confidence in his crew. PSD Peter Hollinson has high standards and
he ensures that they are met. Service throughout the ship was
gracious, prompt and smiling. Especially helpful on a daily basis
was Jr. Asst. Purser Hernan Cicchini (Want a daily paper? Times Fax?
La Stampa? Money changed? Postage stamps? Ship information?
etc). He is always pleasant and prompt, just incredible. Vincent
also spent some time with the cordial Environmental Officer Tibor
Filipovic to discuss the various on board activities, such as waste
disposal, recycling, regulatory compliance, etc. The last CDC Vessel
Sanitary Inspection made last March yielded a great score of 99/100.
But, of course it is
in the restaurants and dining rooms where the quality is most
evident. Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara was always on his toes: He
made some potato gnocchi that were so light that they floated off
the plate straight into the mouth. The menu was broad, diverse, and
the "Always Available" items were excellent: Appetizers of
shrimp cocktail, Fettuccine Alfredo in a cheese basket, and Caesar's
Salad; and Entrees like Beef Filet, Salmon Filet or grilled Chicken
breast. During the week there was succulent Swordfish, Pheasant,
Lobster Tails, Ossobuco, and Rack of Lamb, etc. The desserts were
great under Pastry Chef Riccardo Bellaera. A freshly made Torta
Millefoglie e Crema Inglese was wonderful not overly sweet,
just delicious. The piece de
resistance was a strawberry crostata
made in an almond tart crust with layers of cream, mascarpone, and
chocolate, topped with a rose of thinly sliced fresh strawberries.
Ah, Heaven! The ice creams are made on board Italian Style (gelato);
try the nocciola, fragole,
stracciatella, or the terrific sorbets.
Maitre D' Nicola
Furlan is magnificent. His assistant Vitor remembered us from the
Island Princess. It was like "Home Coming Week." Our
Waiter Eduardo (Portugal) and his Asst. Waiter Pat (Thailand) were
perfect. The pace was just right. Princess Cruises have distinctly
Italian cuisine, since circa half of their executive chefs are
Italian born and trained. We love it. The breads are properly
cooked, crunchy crusts, white, whole grained, dark rolls and bread
Dinner at Trattoria
Sabitini ($20 per person) is a must, since the ambiance is lovely
and background music included Italian songs by Venditti, the Italian
star singer and his guitarist Maurizio Perfetto. The music here was
especially welcomed, since the dining room did not have any. The
Restaurant Manager is the smiling Loredana and our waiters Florin,
Barrio and Roberto served the seemingly endless courses. There is a
menu from which to select an entree of Lobster, Jumbo Prawns, Veal
Cutlet, Filet Mignon, etc. The rest of the meal is served course by
course from platters: antipasti, grilled vegetables, soups, pizza
course, salad, pasta course and entree and desserts. A terrific
evening. Ladies you will feel like a queen. The other upscale
restaurant located on Deck 7 is the Sterling Steakhouse ($15 per
person) which requires reservation and it is renown for prime
quality meat. We have not been there, but we'll make it next time.
Dining Options are
traditional seating in the Islands Dining Room: a fixed time and
table each night. Anytime Dining in both the Palm and Coral Dining
Rooms. This latter style is based on available seating, just like
shore side, or reservations made through a concierge service by
telephone in your room. There is also the 24 hour Horizon Court
Buffet and room service. We always use room service for Continental
Breakfast. Room service was on time and the food was quite good. If
you desire American Breakfast then use the dining room or the
We had Mini Suite #D528 on Dolphin Deck 9. The design is long and
narrow and the colors cool and restful beige, white and willow green
with nice wood accents. The bar and cabinets have granite tops. When
entering the suite there is a long narrow hallway, so narrow that
the wheelchair had to be folded to get in. On the left is a bathroom
with a single sink, tub/shower and shelves for toiletries. Exiting,
there is a long walk-in closet and a cupboard with shelves and a
personal safe. On the left wall is the king size bed and two end
table with dimmer lamps. Next there is a desk with mirror and
drawers, and then a long green hide-a-bed sofa, a coffee table and a
leather arm chair.
On the opposite wall is a double bar, two TVs, one facing the bed
and the other the sofa, and a refrigerator. There are three rather
nice prints on the walls reminiscent of Monet (a flower garden, a
country home and a small European harbor town). The ceiling has a
recessed double wood framed square with rounded edges: Rather
interesting and effective. The far wall is all glass with a door
leading to a small square balcony, on which are four chairs and a
table. Deck 9 balconies are all open to the elements, since there
are no covers or tops, cruisers are exposed to the view of others
and the elements of wind, rain and direct sun. Deck 10 has partially
covered balconies and 11, 12 and 14 are all covered. We were the
recipients of strange flotsam, among which a dead rose (we are still
pondering the meaning of such "gift"). Our cabin was
always neat and well attended by Ernie, and we appreciated it.
This is s huge ship and there are many venues; simultaneously every
night were several shows in the Princess Theater, the Explorer's
Lounge, and the Club Fusion. Cruise Director David Cole keeps it all
sailing along smoothly. In the theater the "BIG" shows
were good, but not spectacular. The most important innovation is
"Movies under the Stars", an outdoor cinema on Calypso
Deck 15 by the pool, with a giant screen visible during daylight and
at night (now installed on other Grand class ships and on Carnival
Liberty, etc). There are also Scavenger Hunts, dance classes,
Scholarship at Seas Programs, Trivia, Bingo and Casino games. There
is nice music all around the ship, but alas none in the dining
rooms--only on the last night during the parade of the flaming Baked
Alaska. Every evening at the Lobby Bar on Plaza Deck 5 there was
great piano music. Bravo to the pianist Si Bi.
This was a cinch. We are always amazed that passengers are in such a
hurry to end their vacations. They bring hand luggage with them to
breakfast; even though, they are informed that debarkation only
begins after the ship's clearance by Port Authorities. They are so
anxious to be off first that they disobey rules and clog the central
exit areas of the ship. We always go to breakfast without luggage. Then
we return to the cabin and get our hand bags. PSD Peter Hollinson
arranged for wheelchair assistance to meet us in our rooms at
8:45am. We were assisted through passport check, baggage pick up,
customs and were outside on the Pier at 9:10am awaiting our car. The
system was entirely efficient.
1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Sail Away
2. Princess Cay, Bahamas Arrive
9:30am Depart 4:00pm
The Island of Eleuthera was discovered by Columbus in 1492.
Tender from the ship to the island. A great day at the
beaches with swimming, snorkeling, water sports and BBQ.
3. At sea
We sailed through the "Windward Passage" between the
islands of Cuba and Haiti. This is the first "Gala
4. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive
7:00am Depart 3:30pm
A favorite excursion here is the climbing of the famous Dunn's
River Falls. We did that when we were younger and able, now we
limit our visit to the nearby shopping area.
5. Grand Cayman Arrive
7:00am Depart 3:30pm
Interesting tours are Stingray City, Butterfly Farm and Helmet
Dive. A few years back we explored the Coral Reef on the
SeaMobile Submarine (a personalized dive for two persons);
however, we do not know if it is still available. This is the
second "Gala Night".
6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:30am
We docked at the new Pier, just finished since the devastation
of last year's Hurricane Wilma. There is a nice shopping Mall
close by the pier where we found excellent values for gift and
souvenirs. Here the most interesting tours are the Mayan Ruins
at Tulum, the Eco-Archeological Park at X-Caret and some of the
best reef snorkeling in the Caribbean.
7. At sea.
8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive
We have enjoyed a great cruise on this enhanced version of the Grand
class ships. We are looking forward to cruising on the Crown
Princess, launched this year, and the Emerald
Princess (2007) to enjoy the newer ships of Princess, which
remains one of our favorite Lines. However, we'll make sure not to
book a cabin on the Dolphin Deck 9, since on this cruise we were not
satisfied with our uncovered balcony. We feel the cuisine is among
the best at sea, especially in regard to the Italian dishes, which
we found simply delectable. Another suggestion we like to make is in
regard to the Princess Patter format which is too wordy and
difficult to use. Some other cruise lines offer a summary guide for
quick reference to the daily activities, which can be detached from
the main paper and carried in the shirt pocket when folded. However,
there is a nice handy Quick Reference Dining & Bar Guide.
Our schedule of future
cruises for the end of this year is the following: Freedom
of the Seas on Oct. 15th, Carnival
Legend on Nov. 8th, Norwegian
Jewel on Nov. 26th and Queen
Mary 2 on Dec. 9th. Happy Cruising!
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